Murphy the Wonder Dog is a nervous wreck.
He is jittery, easily spooked and is always looking over his shoulder. He knows he is being hunted. He knows the hunter is relentless, and he knows that it is just a matter of time before it catches him.
"It" is Gilbert, my son's cat.
Gilbert hates winter. Every year, as the temperature drops and the snow flies, Gilbert goes stir crazy, much to the dismay of Murph the Surf.
Before Murphy arrived, Gil used to hunt whatever he could around the house during the dreary winter days, with people's toes his favourite target.
More than once, someone would wake up with Gilbert going Siberian tiger on their tootsies.
He also climbs into the weirdest places. The other day, he decided the fireplace mantel was the perfect place to take a bath.
I disagreed and relocated him, receiving a nasty look from said cat for my nerve to interrupt his cleaning time.
He will also climb on the piano and wherever else he feels like checking out, all to combat the winter-induced boredom that causes kitty to go koo-koo.
But then one day Murphy arrived. Gilbert quickly established that he was in charge and Murphy may live in the same house as long as he follows one simple rule: you don't make me mad, and I won't kill you.
Murphy got the message real quick and gave the cat a respectable amount of breathing room.
The two actually got along really well, but who was in charge was never in doubt. Mind you, no matter who you are or what kind of pets you have, the cat is pretty sure it is in charge anyway.
As Old Man Winter began to tighten its icy grip, Gilbert started going through his usual restlessness, but this time something was different: there was new play toy to keep Gilbert amused.
Murphy was not amused.
The first time I noticed it was when Murphy came tearing into the family room like the hounds of hell were hot on his heels. It was the cat of catastrophe that had decided this yappy little brown thing was fun to have around, after all.
I looked down the hall to see what was wrong with our six-month old pup and saw Gilbert peeking from the shadows, tail flicking, eyes alert, set to pounce.
Gil was crouched and ready for action, waiting for the perfect opportunity to "play" with his new friend.
Murphy, on the other hand, was not so thrilled with the game. He would casually stroll around a corner only to have the grey and black blur pounce on him and then go bounding away to plan the next attack.
This has gone on every winter since. But, occasionally, Murphy sees the fun in it and will rip around the house like a dog possessed while dodging the cat attack.
There have been several times when Murphy is trotting along, minding his own business when - wham! - cat attack.
When Murphy knows they are playing, he has a good time. The problem is, the cat is always playing the game, especially during winter, so Murphy never knows when the fun will begin. Hence his case of canine jitters.
I must admit, it is amusing to watch, and more than once I have witnessed a surprise cat attack.
I could have intervened, I guess. I could have scared the cat away. But where's the fun in that?
Besides, if Gilbert stops chasing the dog, he will go back to attacking my feet. Sorry pooch, but you are going to have take one for the team.
Darren Handschuh can be reached at
. For more of his ramblings, check out his blog at www.therudemonkey.blogspot.com.